I know, I know, I’ve been dragging my feet about writing these reviews! There’s no real reason for it, really; sometimes it just takes me a little longer to process a book, and figure out what I want to say about it. Sometimes, that’s a sign that a book made a deep and lasting impression on me. For the Nantucket books, that was exactly the case.
Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
t took me a while to put my finger on what it was, exactly, that moved me about the Nantucket books. Then I made my Top Ten list on Tuesday, and it finally dawned on me–it’s Cricket. I identified with her so strongly!
Cricket is the kind of friend who charges right in and does what she thinks is the right thing, even when she feels unsure about how things will shake out, if it means supporting or protecting a friend.
Cricket follows her gut feelings, and doesn’t worry too much about how other people will judge what she does, unless she might hurt someone. In that case, she’s trepidatious, because she’s loyal, and the people she loves come first.
Cricket doesn’t feel the need to wait for a real apology. She cares so much about her friends that she’s just grateful for a resolution to the conflict, even if it doesn’t mean things are fair.
Now, I’m 37 years old, and I know who I am and who I’m not, so it’s kind of weird to find a character with whom I share so many qualities (not everything about me is super-awesome, mind you. This is just the list of things about Cricket that I identified with and, you know, liked.). I’m a bit more tempered, in the 20 years I’ve got on Cricket, and I honestly didn’t see all the similarities while I read the books. I just knew I loved Cricket, and I found myself completely absorbed in these novels–sometimes cringing at what I could see would be disasters, and other times delighted by how her take-charge gutsiness led her to new adventures.
In Nantucket Blue, Cricket and her best friend Jules have a pretty normal and pretty charmed teenaged life–they play on the girls’ lacrosse team together, Cricket practically lives at Jules’ house, and they just found out Jules’ parents plan to include Cricket in their summer vacation plans on Nantucket Island. Then Jules’ mother unexpectedly dies, and everything falls apart. Something’s not right between Cricket and Jules, and Cricket doesn’t know what happened. She ends up spending her summer changing beds in a hotel, and working hard to try and fix…well, basically everything in her life.
The cover is fairly misleading. While there is a romance in the book, and it’s very sweet, the story is far more complex than the cover implies. It’s about friendship, family, and the different ways people cope with trauma. It has a really lovely, positive message, and I felt like the whole book was uplifting and sweet. I also liked that the ending was a little messy. I thought it fit the book, and frankly, it could have ended as-was would have made a nice standalone.
A bit of mild language, some underage drinking and some mentions of teen sex. 4 solid stars.
I was happy to continue on with Nantucket Red, but I have to say I didn’t enjoy it as well. I felt like there wasn’t quite as much story, here, and in some ways, it was just an excuse to carry on with the same characters. While I flagged all kinds of passages in NB, Nantucket Red didn’t end up tagged at all. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it–I did!–but it didn’t feel powerful, to me, like NB did.
In Nantucket Red, Cricket goes back to Nantucket to earn enough money over the summer to go to school. She intends to go to Brown, but in the back of her mind, is contemplating other options. When she gets to the island, she meets a whole new cast of characters at her new job, but Liz, her hotel-job friend, and Jules’ family are all there as well. Cricket works her bum off trying to earn money, and romance ensues, but while Cricket does go on a little journey of self-discovery, I didn’t feel like the plot was as strong, here. Enjoyable, absolutely. Just not quite as much wow-factor.
Between that and the increase in language, Nantucket Red ended up feeling like about a 3 star book for me.
This was the thing about feelings. They find each other. You let one in and others follow.